Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Book of Hours

     The Book of Hours, by T. Davis Bunn, is a tale of hidden agendas, fleeting time, and treasure hunts. Brian Blackstone has finally come to claim the manor left to him by his wife's adopted aunt, but trouble is afoot.
      For the past two years Brian has avoided visiting, only to find out now that it is up for auction to pay for the incurred taxes. Brian has only two weeks to call it his.
      When a surprising letter is found among the china, Brian and the few people who call Castle Keep home are sent on a full-blown treasure hunt. Heather has left a secret, and wishes for him to find it. With the help of Dr. Cecilia, Arthur and Gladys, and Pastor Trevor, he sets out to do so. But what they beyond their wildest imaginations. Heather's prize is astounding; but the REAL discovery.......
       "....Brian turned back to watch their expressions as they passed through the ancient portal. To his immense satisfaction, Percy and Gerald looked utterly stunned. Percy walked straight up to the front altar and said, "Do you have any idea what you've uncovered?"....
        ....Brian cast a look back to where Cecilia watched him, then he unwrapped the top item and stepped back. "Oh my dear sweet word," Percy breathed. "Gerald, your camera!"....
        ...."Take a look at what's underneath," Brian said. The vicar and the auctioneer gave him an astonished look. "There's more?" "We saved the best for last," Brian affirmed....
        ....Cautiously Percy pried open the lid, set it aside, and breathed, "I am well and truly amazed." "What is it?" Trevor demanded. Percy gently lifted out what appeared to be a cloth-wrapped bundle. "This is the reason I have spent my entire life dedicated to the past."...."What this is," Percy repeated, "is every historian's dream. The dream of a lifetime.".....
       I always enjoy books about old manors and the like, but this book was especially good. Definitely one I intend to add to my own book collection.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Lord, Change My Attitude, Before It's Too Late

     In this book, James MacDonald talks about how much our lives are affected by our attitudes, which we can choose. His example to draw back on is the Israelites' journey to the Promised Land. He explains that if we choose the wrong attitudes, we will suffer in the "wilderness", and by choosing the right attitudes, will experience the "Promised Land".           This book outlines five major wilderness attitudes, and five Promised Land attitudes. There is one chapter per attitude; first a wilderness attitude, then the reverse Promised Land attitude. The chapters are to be read two-by-two. The ten attitudes are: Complaining, Thankful, Covetous, Contentment, Critical, Love, Doubting, Faith, Rebellious, and Submission.
    James MacDonald has a unique style of writing; you can almost sense him talking right to you. He puts his expressions and interjections in, making it more realistic, I think. He also makes several good points, many of which stuck out to me. Some of them are:

  •   Criticism makes us hard and vindictive and cruel. It leaves us with the flattering notion that we are superior persons. It is impossible to develop the characteristics of a saint and at the same time maintain a critical attitude. Criticism harms our relationship with God and others, and that will block the flow of God's blessing. 
  •   Contentment is a satisfaction with God's sufficient provision. Satisfied. You don't need anything else. You're satisfied with what God has entrusted to you. 
  •   Faith is not just a part of the Christian life, it's the whole thing. Faith isn't like love and joy and hope. Faith isn't something to add to your spiritual arsenal. Faith is the gun that fires the bullet. Faith is everything.
  •   Have you ever wondered why complaining is such a battle when we all agree that complaining changes nothing? The reason is that complaining satisfies our sinful natures. Complaining releases negative emotional energy in a way that provides momentary relief from a situation or circumstance that may be frustrating to us. That is why we find it so hard to resist.  
     I was intrigued with this book from the moment I read the title. And I enjoyed it through and through.

            I recieved this book from MOODY PUBLISHING in exchange for my honest review. 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Midsummer Melody

    MIDSUMMER MELODY is a tale of Grace Chapel Inn, one in a series (strangely enough, each book seems to be written by a different author. I've never seen that before). Acorn Hill, Pennsylvania is a small, close-knit town where everyone knows each other, and secrets are a figment of the imagination.
    Three sisters run a bed-and-breakfast, called Grace Chapel Inn. But that's not all they do. Louise is gives lessons on the piano, Alice is a nurse, and Jane loves to cook and garden.
     When one of the counselor's cabins at the local summer camp floods, Alice offers a room for the summer. Four college boys who have their own Christian rock band are not exactly what the sisters expected. Louise is especially worried, as she is a firm classical musician. Rock is the worst kind of music in her book. But as the summer progresses, she starts to make friends with the boys.
      Jane is mortified to find that a mole has taken up residence in her beloved garden. Killing it is not an option for her, so she tries every method she can find to make him evacuate on his own, but Mr. Mole is here to stay. Jane has agreed to do a segment on the radio about gardening and housekeeping, but as she struggles to be rid of Mr. Mole, she despairs of being qualified. Goodness, who is she to give advice if bested by such a creature?
    Read along to see if Louise manages to finish composing her concerto, if Jane wins over Mr. Mole, and what happens to the young boy at camp who refuses to come out and play.

Too Close to Home

   BOOK REVIEW:   Samantha Cash is the F.B.I.'s secret weapon. Her methods are invisible, and she never stops until the case is closed. When missing teens begin turning up dead in a small Southern town, Samantha is assigned to help local chief Connor Wolfe find the killer. And he has two problems with that. There's her faith in God and herself. And then there's the fact that she looks exactly like his late wife. As they get close to an answer, the case becomes personal. The killer seems to be taking an interest in Connor's 16 year old daughter, who thinks her dad is getting way too protective. Can't a girl just have some fun? Too Close to Home ratchets up the suspense with each page, and will have readers cheering for the characters they love as justice is served and love grows even in the face of danger. Read this one with the lights on! 
     MY REVIEW:   Lynette Eason is the author of several suspense novels. TOO CLOSE TO HOME is the first in her Women of Justice series. Eason did a good job with this book--I enjoyed it. She kept the story moving and knew just how much to reveal to keep you interested, yet not spoil the ending (which, by the way, is quite the twist). 
    One of the things I liked about this book is that each character has more than one dimension. Eason doesn't focus solely on the case; she writes about the people involved with the case, and their real lives. 
    She also tells some of the story through the eyes of the criminal. It is interesting to watch him see his work unfold. 
    A major plus in this book is the love for God that is shown by several of the characters. Conner's partner and Samantha are both Christians. It's just really nice to see that even with the case they were facing, they stayed true to God and didn't doubt Him. And through their testimonies, both Conner and his daughter are born again. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Catching Heat

    CATCHING HEAT is the third and last book in Janice Cantore's Cold Case Justice series. Detective Abby Hart has been searching for the murderer who killed her parents twenty-seven years ago. In the previous books, Drawing Fire and Burning Proof, she discovered who actually killed them, but they were working for someone higher up. Abby is sure she knows who it is, but has no way to convict them. Private Investigator Luke Murphy, whose uncle also died with Abby's parents, is helping with the case. But he is worried that Abby is becoming obsessed with it.
    Luke and Abby are working on a cold case force with Detective Woods (Woody), Agent Orson, and Faye Fallon to solve a cold case. Ciara Adessi had gone missing twenty years earlier, and fifteen years later her remains were found. The police hadn't been able to find the killer, and now it was being opened to the cold case force.
    Abby isn't convinced that the main suspect is the killer. He just doesn't seem like the type. She is leaning towards the boyfriend. His mom refusing to let anyone question him doesn't help his case at all. He simply looks guilty. So does the cop who is always tailing her. He was also a suspect, and Abby's impression from his earlier interview isn't in his favor.
   While on this case, the force agrees to look into another case. Victoria Napier is looking for her husband. She has been searching at vineyards for the last fifteen years. Apparently he killed both his sons and tried to kill her. Abby and Woody catch up with him, but he turns the tables on them.
    ~THE END

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Abraham and Sarah

    BOOK REVIEW:  Against great odds, they found love--only to endure years of disappointment.  God promised abundant, fertile land and descendants more plentiful than the stars for Abraham and Sarah. But they don't trust God to carry out his plans--in His time.
   Abraham and Sarah begin to tire of waiting for the fulfillment of God's promise.
   Fearing for their lives, Abraham lies to Pharaoh, causing him to evict the couple from Egypt, along with Pharoah's daughter, Hagar. When the barren years linger on, Sarah hatches a plan of her own to become a mother--ignoring God and ultimately causing a family division that ripples through the generations.
   When the resulting miracle unfolds, the reader encounters the life-alternating love of God. 

    MY REVIEW:   Well, over 100 years of history are re-told in this 264-page book. We all know the story of Abraham and Sarah, but there are still a few things that aren't told. After reading this book I had to look it up the Bible just to see how much it matches.
    -In the account of Abimelech wanting to marry Sarah, we have only the verse saying he took her and the next one saying God told him to let her go. Roberta tells it very similarily. She almost quotes the Bible when Abimelech tells of his dream. I didn't realize how old Sarah was at this time.
    -In Genesis, it says Terah took his son Abram and wife Sarai and Lot and left Ur. Roberta tells that when Ur was attacked by the Elamites, Abram took the whole family to Haran. They lived there for a while, then after Terah died, Abram and Lot and a few others left for the promised land.
    -When Pharaoh takes Sarah to be his own wife, Roberta adds that Hagar, Pharoah's daughter, was sent away as well to be Sarah's maid.  I hadn't realized that this happened to Sarah twice.
    -Roberta also gives the account of the angel of the Lord telling Hagar to return and submit to Sarah, but she has this before Ishmael was born.
    -Roberta has Sarah as Abraham's step-sister. I don't know if she was or if she was his niece or what. In this book, Sarah is also terribly spoiled and pampered.
    When I read through this book, there were parts that I thought were changed or added. But when I read it in the Bible, I realized how very similar it is. I actually learned a lot from reading it. I hadn't realized how much I didn't know. Of course, reading the Bible account is always the best option, but this book also brought out a lot.
          This book was given to me by MOODY PUBLISHERS for the express purpose of my honest review. 

Shiloh Autumn

    BOOK REVIEW:    The stock market crash of 1929 had yet to affect the families of Shiloh, Arkansas, in the autumn of '31. Though times were hard, the cotton farmers were sure their land and their hard work were insurance aginst the vagarities of the outside world and its financial markets. There was no forewarning of the terrible Memphis panic and disaster of October 1, 1931, when one day the cotton market collapsed and a way of life was blown away with the wind.
    Shiloh Autumn is the saga of the Tucker and Canfield families as they struggle to make it through the Great Depression. It is an inspiring story of courage, faith, and the healing strength of forgiveness in the face of loss and betrayal.
    Birch and Trudy Tucker are proud of what they've built with their love and labor. The farm produces fine cotton. The pantry and cellar are full of food for the windter. Tom and Bobby are old enough to help with the family chores, yet still young enough to get into mischief. Babby Joey, the joy of his mother's heart, is a loving, laughing child--as full of hope as the life they had before that disastrous autumn came like a whirlwind.
     When the farm is threatened and tragedy strikes, the Tuckers battle to save what they worked so hard to build. But even the forces of nature seem determined to drive them from their home. Through the hard times the Tuckers learn that the love they have for each other and faith in a loving God are the only things they can hold on to.
      MY REVIEW:   The Tucker family struggles to survive after the cotton market crashes, but there are too many forces against them. First, the illness; then Garrick and Caroline Jensen, who are determined to wipe out all the Shiloh families in order to expand their prospering coal mine.
      Having to take out a loan from the Jensens to pay for medical bills, Birch has to put up the farm for collateral. But the Jensens don't play fair. When the railroad comes through, the right of way is directly throught the center of Birch's cotton field. And guess who is controlling the railroad activity? Trudy is inspired to start a cafe for the railroad workers, but once again the Jensens come out on top.
     The Tuckers refuse to lose faith, and they do make it through, though not in the way they had hoped to. They do have their good days though:
      -Tom has a bet with the local bully to see who can catch the biggest opposum. The boys have drastically different methods, which make for a very interesting chapter.
      -When the first family in Shiloh is set up for auction to pay back the Jensens, all their friends chip in to help. The auctioneer receives several determinedly persuasive guests in the middle of the night before and is told only to accept certain bidders. Then the young boys band together and all the visitors to the auction somehow manage to get lost or sent in the wrong direction. In the end, the Shiloh residents buy everything with pennies, and return it all to the rightful owners, declaring thus their Penny Revolt.
      -Joey's pet chicken, Henny, manages to win first placein the fair, even over Caroline Jensen's hen, which does not please her in the least.
      Bodie and Brock Thoene have written several books, including a few more in the Shiloh series.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Earth Psalms

       BOOK REVIEW:  In this weekly devotional, beloved author Francine Rivers invites you to join her in seeking the Creator through the marvelous natural world we live in. Francine shares observations she's gathered over a lifetime of exploring--abroad and in her own backyard--and reflects on how they might apply to your daily life. What do the majestic redwoods, the persistent woodpecker, or a glorious sunrise reveal about our artistic and generous God? How could that change your outlook or the way you handle adversity?
      Stunning photography, Scripture excerpts, applications, and prayers accompany Francine's reflections, inspiring you to be encouraged. Be challenged. Be comforted. God's power is immense; His attention to detail is precise; His love for you is vast and unfailing. The proof is all around you.

      MY REVIEW:   Francine Rivers and Karen Stock Buursma have done a wonderful job with this book. Their focus is on finding God in nature. He is all around us, and this book does a good job of pointing that out.
     There are fifty-two chapters, so it can be read one each week,  or a chapter a day, or all in one sitting if you prefer. With an elegantly simple layout and beautiful pictures, this is a book that simply begs to be read.
     In addition to being a devotional, it could also be classified as a sort of autobiography. Francine gets her examples from her own life; her own personal experiences. She ends each chapter with three short footnotes: Reflect, Apply, and Connect with God. All together, EARTH PSALMS is an inspiring devotional that brings out God's hand in nature.

  I received this book from TYNDALE HOUSE PUBLISHERS in exchange for my honest review. 

Friday, September 16, 2016


      BOOK REVIEW:     Jessica ran from her past....but can she hide from love?  Jessica Morgan wants desperately to forget the past and begin a new life. She chooses a small, peaceful town tucked away in Oregon's Willamette Valley as the place to start over--Glenbrooke. Once there, Jessica conceals her identity from the intriguing personalitites she meets--including the compassionate paramedic who desires to protect her and the jealous woman who wants nothing more than to destroy her.
      Will Jessica's deceit ruin all hope for the future? Or will she find a deeper peace that allows her to stop hiding the truth from those who love her most of all?

       MY REVIEW:      Robin Jones Gunn is the author of the SISTER CHICKS series. She has also written several teen books. This is her first adult novel, published in 1995.
        A few of the things I especially liked in this book are:
              1). The people of Glenbrooke. They lived in a small town where everyone knew and loved everyone else. Everyone took Jessica in when she first arrived.
              2). Jessica's resolve to provide for herself. She had the opportunity to live a rich and comfortable life, but she chose to teach in a small town and provide for herself. She also refused to be intimidated by her one enemy.
              3).  The trip to Mexico. The youth and their sponsors went to finish a project they had been helping with for the past few years. On this trip they managed to finish. They gave up their own desires and went down to help build a church for the poor christians.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Turning

       BOOK REVIEW:    Take the turning and walk the unlikely road. A voice. And five dissimilar people knew they were summoned to obey. Against all earthly logic, it carried a divine command --and their unforeseen meeting would result in a challenge to the cultural direction of the nation and wage war against the most powerful and influential industry in North America.
       A message. One that asks for a single personal response --a response that can unveil a new realm of moral responsibility and hope. The media frenzy places a spotlight on knowing --and doing-- the will of God. How will the group be able to stand against the swelling powers of darkness and greed vying to crush their message of Hope?
      Can they really hear the voice of God?

      MY REVIEW:    One of the largest ever companies puts out their new campaign: HOPE IS DEAD. Five people have heard the voice of God calling them, and they all happen to meet in a restaurant in the middle of New York City. All different races and from different states even, they join together to declare that HOPE IS NOT DEAD.
      Battling the attempts against them, they stand firm, even when each of their lives are threatened by it.
      I really liked how, even when threatened, these five believers--and every other Christian supporting them--stood strong and true to God. It really is a testimony that God will keep you safe no matter what happens when you listen to Him and follow where he leads.
     I received this book from MOODY PUBLISHERS in exchange for my review. 

Monday, September 12, 2016


     BOOK REVIEW:    There's no one quite like Hope Ladley. A veritable dandelion in the wind, she blows from one farm to the next, roaming the Texas countryside as an itinerant cook. When she rides her mule, Hattie, onto the Stauffer farm, Hope knows this is the place the Lord wants her to be.
     Jakob Stauffer, though grateful for a cook to assist his pregnant sister and young daughter through harvest, is baffled by Hope's unconventional methods as she gets things done around the farm. Yet he can't deny the way her sunny disposition and unstinting love make changes of a different kind...even within his own heart.
     When harvest is over, will Hope return to her wandering ways, or embrace the dream of forevermore?

      MY REVIEW:    Forevermore is the story of Hope Ladley, and her helpful wandering ways. Throughout the year, Hope travels around and stays at different farms for a week or so, to help during busy times. When she stops at the Stauffer farm, she can tell that she will be needed. Not trying to change, but to help, Hope promptly starts to help Annie with her work. Jakob is surprised by the way Hope seems to flit from one job to the next without finishing anything. Why would someone can only a few jars at a time, or do a load of just socks? He finally realizes that she is doing so to keep Annie from helping too much. On the sly, Hope has got an awful lot done.
    I enjoyed this book. Hope is what I would call a busy worker bee. She never sits still. She keeps God number one in her life, and brings great blessings by traveling around doing His will.

Saturday, September 10, 2016


     UNLOCKED is a story about Holden Harris, who is autistic. At the age of three, he started fading away, so to speak. Now, 18 years old and attending Fulton High School, he seems completely locked away. He is part of the special needs program, but has been mainstreamed for a trigonometry class, which puts him in a position for bullying from the school jocks.
     Ella Reynolds is troubled by the bullying, especially since she is dating one of instigators. Holden seems vaguely familiar to her, and she feels a subtle connection with him. He seems to actually see her, which is hugely unusual. Ella manages to get permission for Holden to attend rehearsals for the school play, in which she has the lead. Holden seems particularily touched by the music, and it is Ella's hope that this will help to draw him out.
     Tracy Harris can hardly stand the way Holden won't look at her, acknowledge her, or let her touch him. Ever since he started falling away, she had no choice but to say good bye to her son. She still prays for a miracle, but it seems futile. Her husband, Dan, gave in long ago. He now had a full year job, fishing in Alaska. He only came home to visit three times each year.
     Suzanne Reynolds is also feeling despair, but from a different source. She does everything in her power to regain the youth she once had, in an effort to get her all-star husband to come home. But he is too busy training, and she can't seem to catch his attention anymore.
     Not a true story, yet based on a true-life observation, UNLOCKED is an inspiring book which shows that even amid struggles and trials, some good does remain, especially when you trust in God to see you through.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Drummer in the Dark

  BOOK REVIEW:     Jackie Havilland is working in an Orlando detective agency when she is approached with an unusual request: Esther Hutchings, wife of Congressman Graham Hutchings, wants Jackie to find out who is behind a smear campaign to destroy her husband, who has recently suffered a debilitating stroke. Congressman Hutchings was investigating a secret project called Tsunami, the biggest currency scam in history. Jackie is instructed to unearth all she can and to leave no paper trail.
    Wynn Bryant, a successful, wealthy businessman, is the brother-in-law of the governor of Florida. Wynn has never liked politics and is surprised when his brother-in-law contrives to have him take Hutching's place in Congress. The reason soon becomes clear: Legislation to relieve Third World countries of their dept -- dubbed the Jubilee Amendment -- is in the offing, and the governor is determined to have it quashed at any cost. Just as Wynn is about to decline the position, he is told that refusing is not an option.
    As Jackie and Wynn get more deeply involved in their new assignments, they begin to feel ripples of conspiracy carrying a destructive power far more dangerous than the notorious Tsunami scam. It is a killer wave that threatens to crush them both and permanently reshape the world economy.
    In his previous WaterBrook novel, THE GREAT DIVIDE, T. Davis Bunn spun a legal thriller that wowed critics and readers alike. In DRUMMER IN THE DARK, he captures contemporary political and financial maneuverings with the same dazzling artistry. Climaxing in a highly charged showdown between the demands of morality and the driving forces of economic globalization in our increasingly interdependent world, DRUMMER IN THE DARK brings the suspense novel to a whole new level of excitement.

  MY REVIEW:   Well, I think that about covers it. :) This book took a bit of getting into. But I FINALLY got it read. Once I got into it and started to comprehend a little of what was happening (politics completely baffle me), I really enjoyed the book.  A lot of the story was lost to me, but I still enjoyed it. I don't see a lot of connection between it and the other two books in the series, other than the main character in book three is mentioned slightly towards the end of this story.
    This book is about a huge scheme to crash the market. Equipt with good guys, bad guys, good guys being bad guys, and vice versa, DRUMMER IN THE DARK tells a gripping story with many characters, several different threads, and intricate details.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

In the Field of Grace

    BOOK REVIEW:   Without wealth or family, the widow Ruth left her people and followed Naomi, her beloved Hebrew mother-in-law, to rebuild Naomi's home in Israel. Provisions gone and starvation at the door, Ruth used all that she had left -- a strong back and a willing heart -- to gather grain in a field, abandoned after the harvest.
     Tormented by others, Ruth is shocked to find the owner of the field watching her. Talking to her. Bringing food to her and Naomi. Boaz tells himself his kindness toward Ruth is repayment for the love she has shown to his cousin Naomi. But his heart knows better.

    MY REVIEW:    I had been eagerly looking forward to reading this book. I just got it yesterday afternoon, and read the entire thing before bed. :) The book of Ruth is one of my favorites, so what could be better than an entire novel written about her?!
     Tessa Afshar was born and raised in Iran, which gives her good insight into Ruth's life style. She wrote exceptionally well, I thought. The book itself is beautiful, and I love having it in my bookcase. :)
      I didn't expect this book to be geared towards Boaz and Ruth's romance quite so much, but I really enjoyed it. Ruth never felt accepted in her own family, being the youngest of five daughters, and not nearly so pretty. When she makes an unexpected friend in Naomi, a Hebrew from Israel, Ruth begins to finally feel accepted, both by Naomi and her son Mahlon. After Mahlon and Chilion die, Ruth follows Naomi back to Bethlehem, knowing full well that she will not be accepted. In one last desperate move to avoid starvation, Ruth decides to learn how to glean wheat. As it turns out, she finds Boaz's fields, and catchies his attention. Boaz is intrigued with Ruth, as she is not what he expected from a Moabite, and he goes out of his way to protect her. As the two of them realize they care about each other, they each struggle with feeling lost to the other. Ruth is sure he will not accept a Moabite, and Boaz can only see the years that separate them. But it all works out in the end.
      This story really brings out Ruth's love for Naomi, and her willingness to stoop to the lowest level in order to care for her. It is also a wonderful example of God's love and provision to those that love Him and seek to glorify His name.

  This book was given to me by MOODY PUBLISHERS for the express purpose of my honest review. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Escape from Kyburg Castle

     ~Escape from Kyburg Castle is written by Christmas Carol Kauffman. It is a fiction story about a young girl living during the era of the Anabaptists.
       Regina and her parents are wondering what it is about the Anabaptist faith that is making all their friends convert. Isn't Ulrich Zwingli right? How can people doupt his doctines? Why is everyone following Conrad Grebel, Felix Manz, and George Blaurock? Especially with Anabapist persecution?
       Regina is offered the position of nurse maid for the pastor, whose wife had just given birth to twins. Regina loves her job, and spends the next two years there. But they live near Kyburg Castle, and Regina often sees the Anabaptists being taken "up the hill". This does not sit well with Regina, who feels great sympathy for them.
       After witnessing Felix Manz's drowning, Regina speaks with his mother and is even more confused. That night, her brother Hans comes and takes Regina to see Johann Ferlinden, the infamous Anabaptist who escaped from the castle and is now the most sought-after man. There, Regina accepts the Anabaptist faith, and both she and her brother are baptized. However, someone is out to do her harm, and she is imprisoned. But with the help of the young guard, she escapes and is reunited with her family.
     ~I enjoyed this book, and it was the first of Kauffman's books that I have read.